It’s a fear that I have never felt before. A big heap of vulnerability wrapped in imposter syndrome nestled in anxiety. It was a first for me – dropping a book onto unsuspecting and innocent bystanders. Letting go of something that has been “yours” for almost two years is terrifying. I knew the moment would come, but I still wasn’t ready for the panic of realizing that everyone would have a chance at reading my book. Not that everyone is going to be reading it – that’s a pipe dream, but they could, and that was the frightening idea.
Longing For The Spirit was released exactly a month ago, and it’s been fun, but fun as in riding a rollercoaster when you’re afraid of heights, heart-in-your-throat when edging the speedy curves kind of fun. I wanted to hold on to the book just a little longer. Not that I could have done any more editing or anything like that. That time had passed. I just wanted to…not have anyone else have access to it. I wanted to keep it safe. But that’s not what it’s about. As my wife said “it’s no longer yours”. And she was right. It was no longer mine. What happened after I let go wasn’t up to me any longer.
One of the great fears I had was a book launch / signing that my wife organized. I didn’t want it, to be honest. It was like when my first year sober date was approaching, and I didn’t want a medallion meeting. My sponsor insisted. He said it wasn’t about me, it was about the program, and for the newcomer, to show them that 12-step could work for them like it did me and so many others. So I packed my ego and pride and did it, and that night was wonderful. Not because I was at the center of attention (I wasn’t, really), but because it felt right. I had many new guys from the treatment center I had gone to tell me that they were glad they were there for the celebration, and that is where I made the connection between having it and passing it on. I was there to pass it on, and that is what I have been trying to do since.
Understanding that the signing was more than just about a book, my book, I acquiesced. It was about opening the doors to my experience. It was about letting in those who were there in the dark days, those who helped out my family when I was in no condition to do so, and to finally creep out from behind my keyboard and put it out there. It was a showcase for the process, the one where I opened a vein and just wrote, not really worrying about the reader. At the time I was doing it for me, but I can see now that there were others who needed to see it. I understand that now.
For the signing, we asked the publisher, Marnie Kay, to come. We also asked close friends and family. I had a bit of a struggle in trying to get a package of books brought in on time. They never arrived, so I had three whole books to sell and sign. But that didn’t stop the well-wishers from coming in on a Saturday morning, to attack some snacks (one must always have snacks, is my motto) and to lend their ears as I stumbled through some readings. I was nervous, anxious, but I had to let it go and realize that it wasn’t all about me. It was the message.
Marnie said a few things, and immediately I started to choke up. I had to stop a few times during the reading, because I was overwhelmed by emotion. I was standing in front of those who had seen me at my worst, those who stuck through it, who visited me at rehab, who helped my wife and son get through the day while I was in detox and rehab getting sober. And here they were, listening to me talk about spirituality and such, knowing at one point I had a hard time even showering or feeding my family. It was hard, but I composed myself and kept reading.
I then signed some books, and spoke to someone who I didn’t know was in recovery. It was a wonderful chat, and I knew that it was meant for him and I to talk about it. I had a few people talk to me about that one person in their lives who alcohol stole, or wrestled down. I was able to look everyone in the eye and not feel shame. Or guilt. And when I was unsure what to do or say, I snacked. As I said, snacks are important.
Since then, orders have come in. I have been having a lot of fun sending out inscribed books, and I have been able to ship out to places far and wide in North America and UK (sadly, I had to stop sending out to the UK – I was actually losing money sending out that far!) The comments I have received have been kind and heartwarming. I love that people have been giving them as gifts. And I hope many more continue to do so. That to me is where the magic lies – sharing the message to those who don’t know me or my story (yet). Our stories are our currency. They shape us and yet don’t define us. They give us passage into the spirits of others. They simply say “I understand”.
I have been quite busy, but I intend to return to reading your stories, here in the blogs. That is where I started bleeding on the keyboard…and continue to do so. Your stories are important to me. I need the “I understand” parts. I need the “me too”’s. I need to know that I am not the only one who has crazy thoughts, or a mind that wants to thwart me at times. I need to know you’re out there. So here’s to a renewed effort to maintain contact, and to entwine like Redwood tree roots.
If you are interested in getting an inscribed version of the book, please visit the site – www.longingforthespirit.com. Make sure you go to the “signed copy” link at the top right. Otherwise, you are still able to purchase at most Amazon branches!
If you have read it, I humbly ask you drop a review (even a quick one!) at Amazon.com. I would really appreciate it.
NOTE: The ebook will be available in the new year – most likely January 9th, 2018. So fear not, electronic book readers! I haven’t forgotten you!
Thank you for all your support.
Here is a touching thing someone did – they purchased a copy and donated it to the neighbourhood library!